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When you attend Carnival Calabar, check out TINAPA

Every December 26, Calabar, the Cross Rivers State capital is agog for the annual ‘Carnival Calabar’, the highlight of the 32-days Calabar Festival which runs from 30th November to 1st January. The carnival is a unique display of African heritage showcased through music, dance, drama and visual creativity which is reflected in the design of floats, costumes and make-up.

The annual event started in 2000 as Street Parade as one of the Cross River State Annual Christmas Festival. The first Parade showcased 'major Landmarks of the State such as the famous export Commodity - Cocoa Pod, the low land Gorilla of the last rain forest in West Africa, the Leopard of the Ekpe Cultural group, the old Residency building which once served as the seat of Government of the entire Colonial Nigeria, the Mary Slessor Caravan, Monoliths and more.

In 2004, costumes were introduced to elaborate the Street Parade, and the five official Carnival Bands were created namely: Bayside, Freedom, Master Blaster, Passion Four and Seagull Band. The Street Party has also become for the State and its people an ideal tool for tourism and ultimately Socio-economic development.

One such ideal is the Obudu Mountain Resort and TINAPA, a business and leisure resort north of Calabar. Although the Obudu Resort is a success venture and has attracted commendations even from visitors to the country, TINAPA has not recorded much success and its sustainability is currently threatened.  However, TINAPA concept is a sound ideal and one that should be encouraged to survive. So when you are in Calabar for the Carnival, please take a tour of the TINAPA; it promises to be exciting.

TINAPA was set up to become a world-class integrated business resort

TINAPA is the realisation of an exciting dream - the first integrated business and leisure resort in Nigeria. The complex provides international standard wholesale emporiums, integrated shopping complexes and product distribution elements supported by business tourism and entertainment facilities. The location of these, in close proximity to a free port on the east-west trading routes, provides exciting opportunities for TINAPA to serve as:

•The distribution point into Nigeria and the growing economic hub of West Africa

•The ultimate centre for retail and wholesale commercial activities with the ECOWAS sub-region taking advantage of the international agreement on free movement.

The vision for TINAPA is bold, exciting and insightful

The vision for TINAPA builds on the principle that the creation of a trade hub will attract investors, traders and business travelers and subsequently domestic, regional and international leisure tourists. The mix of components brought together in the phased development of the project creates an ideal environment for trade and business tourism to flourish and lays the foundation on which to build a successful leisure tourism industry.

The TINAPA concept aims to boost manufacturing, trade & commerce and stimulate business tourism at the TINAPA Free Zone and Resort and the existing Calabar Free Trade Zone; promote diversification of target markets; reduce business risks; and provide attractive returns for investors as well as other stakeholders – State & Federal Governments, Calabar citizenry and all Nigerians.

Such projects like TINAPA can help Nigeria diversify revenue base

Nigeria is traditionally an agricultural economy and agriculture remains the largest employer of labour constituting about 40% of the GDP; but currently petroleum is the major source of revenue for the country.  According to official estimates, the oil sector accounts for about 80% of Federal revenue, more than 95% of export earnings and 10.6% of GDP at factor cost. However, Nigeria’s economy intends to transit from being a largely state-controlled to a liberalized free market economy, from being oil dependent to more of non-oil dependent and from import-dependent to being export-oriented. The advent of democracy has brought about major market reforms, privatization of state-owned enterprises and the improvement of infrastructures. TINAPA is a kind of project that can help the country to achieve its objective of diversifying its revenue stream and opening the up the country to foreign trade.

Cross Rivers State has a lot to benefit from TINAPA

Cross Rivers State has very limited oil resources; hence agriculture is the mainstay of the State’s economy accounting for over two-thirds of its GSP. The majority of farms are small-scale and are labour-intensive. Agriculture employed about 80% of the State’ labour force but as a result of difficulty encountered due to the primitive method of farming, a lot of the citizenry are leaving the farm to seek a blue/white-collar jobs. In other to stem exodus from the agricultural and productive sector, the Cross River State Government has taken full advantage of the Calabar Free Trade Zone to boost food processing and manufacturing in the State. The Federal Government had created the Calabar Free Trade Zone to encourage industrial and manufacturing diversification within the State, create backward and forward integration between various sectors of the economy and through these initiatives, transform Cross River State into a regional manufacturing and trade hub for Nigeria.

The State Government’ role in activating the linkages between agricultural production, produce processing and manufacturing is highlighted by the conception of the TINAPA Project. Through this project, the entire citizenry of Cross River State will benefit in form of employment opportunities in the agricultural, industrial processing and manufacturing sectors in the state and increased economic activities in the State. The State Government will benefit from revenue to be generated through taxes, licences and tourism in the State.  Several business concerns especially those engaged in the hospitability business have already started establishing their presence in the State.

Other States in Nigeria will also benefit

It is not only the Federal Government’s objective of diversifying the revenue base of the country and the benefits to the citizenry of Cross River State that is being met by TINAPA, several (if not all) of the other states will also benefit from the project. The neighbouring States to Cross River (Akwa-Ibom, Abia, Enugu etc) can directly benefit by creating tourist attractions centres and other activity centres that can attract the visitors to TINAPA. These States can also conduct their trades through TINAPA rather than having to go to Lagos and other Commercial centres in the country.

Another important benefit of the TINAPA Project is the ability to decongest some other over-crowed commercial centres like Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Port Harcourt etc. This is possible through exodus of people from these centres to Cross River State in search of better economic situation. Jobs to be created by TINAPA will attract people from all over the country especially from Lagos which is considered over-crowded. If attractive projects like TINAPA can spring up in other less active states in the country, the population of the country would be more evenly distributed.

Investment in TINAPA offers attractive incentives

TINAPA incorporates a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for investment opportunities, which is granted a Free Trade Zone status. This status offers exemption from all taxes, levies and rates (Federal, State & Local Governments); entitlement to approved enterprises to import free of custom duty, any capital goods, consumer goods, raw materials, components and articles intended to be used with an approved facility; freedom from legislative provision pertaining to taxes, levies, duties and foreign exchange regulation; repatriation of foreign capital on investments in the zone at any time; and unrestricted remittance of profits earned by investors.

Through the SPV, TINAPA is providing investors with a robust platform to capture the latent demand in the Nigerian and West African States. It is also providing an unprecedented opportunity for tenants to be part of one of the most exciting retail developments in West Africa as trading takes place in state-of-the-art-facilities whilst tax benefits and access to large markets, both in Nigeria and overseas will create a once-in-a-life time opportunity for tenants to maximize investments returns.

The federating units would be better off if the project is replicated by other States and regions

The economic prospects of TINAPA have brought all kinds of support to the project. The project has received legal support from all governments involved and also financial support when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) approved a consortium of banks to provide the needed financing. The implication is that a project initiated by the Government if well-conceived, can be a huge success and a boost to the country’s economy. Cross River State has set a pace in this direction; it is very possible to replicate this in other states of the federation or at least on a regional basis. All that is needed to be done is for each state to leverage on the federal government reform policy of the sector that is favorable to them. For example, states with solid mineral deposits should leverage on the reform of the sector while states with more commercial activities should leverage on the power sector reform to create activity centres in the form of TINAPA.

State governments and regions (for economies of scale) are being challenged to replicate this project to guarantee economic developments.


  • Written by The Analyst
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